Wallet Warriors: Rakdos, Lord of Riots
Welcome back Wallet Warriors! It’s been awhile since my last deck tech and this is one I’ve been really excited to show you guys. This is Rakdos, Choose Your Fate. Initially inspired by the new card Torment of Hailfire, I realized how much fun it is watching my opponents squirm under the knife when they have to choose the least bad option given to them. The most common problem with cards that give your opponent's options is that when they choose the life-loss, it doesn’t change the board state or give you any card advantage. That is why this deck combines these types of cards with an extremely aggressive shell to make the option of life-loss much less appealing, as well as our commander making our creatures cheaper when our opponents lose life. After playing with and against this deck, I can assure you the decisions your opponents make are not going to be easy. This deck is terrifying. Every option is terrible and you get to watch as they struggle to decide what to do with a giant demon breathing down their necks. All that for just about $95 right now.
Here’s the deck:
If you want to see the deck list separated by the groupings I talk about. Click here.
Let’s start with how you actually get Rakdos onto the board on turn four. This is essentially an aggro deck and the games where you stumble and can’t play your commander early are night and day to the ones where you curve out. A 6/6 flying trampler can be very difficult to deal with on turn four but every turn he sits in the command zone beyond that he gets exponentially worse.
We’ve got four “pingers” in Lobber Crew, Nettle Drone, Thermo Alchemist and Cryptolith Fragment which are great because they get around other creatures and give a large mana reduction with Rakdos in play.
We also have some early game creatures because in a multiplayer game of commander, there will often be someone who is just setting up with some ramp spells and won’t have a creature to block with. Our little guys all have a lot of utility so they’re not dead late in the game. Viashino Heretic blows up artifacts and deals damage. Grenzo, Havoc Raiser forces our opponents to attack each other and provides pseudo card advantage. Liliana’s Specter is an evasive three drop that fits our theme of making our opponents make difficult decisions.
This is the power of the deck. Having tons of big creatures to drop early in the game is vital to our strategy because we want to kill people fast. Remember, Rakdos' ability is cost reduction, meaning it applies to all your creatures for that turn. We're not just looking for stats though. We want our fatties to do other things than just smack people really hard.
For card draw we have Kothophed, Soul Hoarder, Harvester of Souls and Bloodgift Demon among others. Grenzo, Dungeon Warden and Maga, Traitor to Mortals allow you to effectively get full use out of Rakdos’ ability because every point of damage you do can be put into the X cost of these creatures. Not only will they enter as giant threats but one has a nice mana-sink ability and the other will double up your damage you did that turn.
Neheb, the Eternal is probably the best creature in the 99. It is effectively a second Rakdos but can be really scary because you can spend the mana on any spell, not just creatures. There are a couple very powerful X spells in the deck that work perfectly with Neheb, Torment of Hailfire is one I’ve already mentioned but there is also the second half of Cut to Ribbons.
Choose your Fate cards:
Any competitive players reading should skip this section because we’re getting into the silly stuff. These cards may not be the most powerful but they create very fun gameplay… for you.
Torment of Hailfire, Choice of Damnations and Killing Wave are your big late game plays. Torment and Killing Wave are devastating when you can dump tons of mana into them in the end of the game and Choice of Damnations gets more powerful the more permanents your opponents have.
Painful Quandary, Archfiend of Depravity and Mogis, God of Slaughter have ongoing abilities that make your opponents lives much more difficult.
Bane of Bala Ged, Artisan of Kozilek and Pathrazer of Ulamog cost no colored mana and force the defending player to lose permanents when they attack.
Finally, the silliest card in the deck and one of my new personal favorites. Whims of the Fates can single handedly turn a game into a hilarious gamble. In my experience this card immediately brings out the true nature in people and how much they are willing to risk. Some people will slowly and meticulously separate their permanents into three piles calculating how to survive with the imminent loss. Others will take a riskier approach and leave one pile empty hoping for that lucky 33%. Then the lunatics of the group reveal themselves. Those who are willing to risk everything while leaving two piles empty. This card may not win you a lot of games but it will definitely give you hilarious stories to tell.
Blowin Stuff Up:
This is our removal/board wipe package. Aggro decks in commander suffer from the problem that instead of having to deal 20 damage in a normal two player format, they typically have to deal 120 or more damage to win the game. With this in mind, we want some answers for the late game.
Dread Cacodemon, Demon of Dark Schemes and Chandra’s Ignition are great for dealing with our opponents creatures and leaving our own alive when setup correctly. The Ignition also combines very well with our commander for massive cost reduction.
Steel Hellkite is a colorless creature (great with Rakdos) that can pick off troublesome permanents and can sometimes devastate a board, remember you can pay 0 for the second ability to destroy all 0 cost non-land permanents, including tokens.
This section is relatively shallow because our commander already does a great job of ramping out our large gentlemen. However we do want at least some ramp in case our commander isn’t around and we need to pay full value for our creatures.
Alloy Myr, Leaden Myr and Iron Myr are colorless creature ramp which fit into this deck nicely because they can act as Rakdos enablers early on before our opponents have a chance to put out blockers. They also benefit from Rakdos’ cost reduction.
Cryptolith Fragment is one of the best cards to have in your opening hand because it not only fixes your mana, which is very important when your commander has such a specific mana cost, but it guarantees that you can deal damage to your opponents early on.
This section is a mish-mash of cards that I believe are important to have in the deck but do not fit in another group.
Berserkers’ Onslaught, Gratuitous Violence and Dictate of the Twin Gods give our giant creatures an even bigger punch.
Dragon Mage, Reforge the Soul, Underworld Connections and Staff of Nin provide some additional card draw which is very important because you can empty your hand very quickly when Rakdos starts hacking away.
It’s always nice to have some incidental lifegain in a black deck because you end up dealing a good amount of damage to yourself. For that we have Whip of Erebos, Sangromancer, Loxodon Warhammer and Disciple of Bolas.
There aren’t many specific cards that you absolutely need to make this deck automatically better but you don’t need to look very far for some extra power. Any of the Eldrazi titans are a welcome addition because they are colorless, have abilities that trigger on cast and are generally very powerful. Walking Ballista is another colorless creature that doubles as a Rakdos enabler early in the game. Finally, Necropotence and Phyrexian arena give us some extra gas.
Rakdos, Lord of Riots has quickly become one of my favorite commanders flat out. I’m really happy with this budget version and If you were looking to build this scary Ravnican demon this is a great starting point with plenty of room to upgrade over time. Now go, wreak some havoc, and I’ll see ya in a couple weeks Wallet Warriors!